A War Crime, nothing else

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

First, they made the world believe to have successfully killed ISIS-K terrorists in the late August drone strike in Kabul. When even they realized that something had gone wrong again, they tried to cover it up as long as possible. This time, German public television was on the scene shortly after the attack and interviewed people from the immediate neighborhood where the drone struck. These people told a different story from the start than American officials, who quickly stated that no other military in the world uses drones more safely than the United States. In reality, they murdered children, purely by “accident.” This is what Christian retaliation looks like in response to an attack by terrorists.

After the mess the Americans made in Afghanistan, they are already planning the next invasions. AUKUS – the “security agreement” for the Indo-Pacific Region – with the British and Australia, came out of blue sky. Biden, this time, could have been Trump. The treaty is reminiscent of Victorian imperialistic alliances before the First World War and Roosevelt-policies in the Second World War, when spheres of interest in the Southeast Asian region were to be “secured”, deliberately provoking potential confrontations with Japan.

In order not to create any false impressions: this new agreement is ostensibly not directed against China, because in a confrontation with this country the Americans would more than likely go down. Moreover, why would they even fight a country to which large American corporations like Walmart have outsourced much of the American manufacturing base to make the most profit possible instead of creating good paying jobs for their own people at home? Rather, the US once again wants to poke around in regions of the world and explore lucrative expansion opportunities where it is anything but wanted. This just screams for new proxy wars against small countries, this time not with ground troops, but with new war technology that is labeled “infallible”, especially when in the hands of the American military.

After all, the arms business is the main concern in the land of the free, because it secures billions in profits, no matter if the war is lost or won. If children die in the process, as in Afghanistan – that is collateral damage, which is accepted with hypocritical excuses. The poor French are now angry because their submarine deal with Australia was screwed up by the Biden administration. But that’s too bad.

When the time comes, when the next bang occurs, the Americans at home will be told the next lie. People who have fallen for the insane “Make America Great Again” philosophy believe everything they are led to believe anyway – as soon as it is about feigned “American patriotism” and “American freedom” that has to be defended, next time somewhere in South-East Asia.

Vietnam is long forgotten.

Fight Socialism

How American Neo-Liberals lie to their People

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I once wondered why so many US media outlets, in concert with especially right-wing politicians, almost exclusively use the empty phrase “former communist East Germany” whenever the defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) is mentioned. It’s misleading because it’s historically wrong – and I think the commenters know that very well in most cases. A fear-mongering is deliberately staged in order to drum into people’s heads over and over again a phrase about a social system that, according to a widespread American understanding, only compares to hell. In truth – and I say this as a contemporary witness – this communism did not exist on German soil at any time.

For in communism, by definition, neither money nor private property exists. Fact is we had both; money in most cases even in abundance – only you couldn’t do much with it. That’s because basic needs in the GDR – housing, food, medical care – were guaranteed by state order and dirt cheap, and spending on big extras was almost impossible because those extras most of the time simply didn’t exist. Generally, the GDR-customer had to wait up to 15 years after registering for a new car, and when the first Soviet-made color televisions became available in the early 1980s, they cost around 6,000 GDR marks. The average wage of a skilled worker at that time was 800 to 900 marks, and I paid 66 marks monthly for a two-room rental apartment of very good quality. A beer in the pub (0.5 liters equal to 0.13 gallons) cost 0.40 and 0.51 marks; for a loaf of mixed rye bread (1.65 pounds), fresh and delicious from the bakery, the price was 0.93 marks.

I remember a student – we were still children – asking our teacher how shopping without money could work under communism and in general. The teacher’s answer: In communism, everyone is considerate of others and therefore only puts as much in the shopping cart as he needs for himself – no more. He does not have to pay for it, because there is no money. – My school friend Bernd spoke up, his index finger raised far above his head, and he was excited: “That can’t work. My father would lug all the beer out of the store, right down to the last bottle, if he didn’t even have to pay for it.”

Communism was to be the final stage of fulfillment of all desires and dreams, while socialism is only the penultimate step to pave the way. But Socialism didn’t work out well in the GDR either. This is because the idea of socialism requires that the means of production are not in private hands, but in the hands of the state. I have personally worked and lived in this state-controlled economy that did not allow personal innovation in the first place. Of course, such a command economy with hardly anyone interested in progress cannot function in an effective manner. Apart from subsidized basic supplies for the people, the economy in the GDR was an economy of scarcity; a condition that worsened especially in the 1980s.

Many years later, I worked for the largest private employer in the United States of America, a retailer named “Walmart.” That’s when I went from the frying pan into the fire – so to speak. Although there was a lot more to buy at Walmart than in “communist East Germany” back then, most of my American colleagues barely had any extra money available and often couldn’t make it from payday to payday without relying on government handouts. There was no legal protection for workers either; instead, they were subjected to arbitrariness of a kind not seen even in the supposed communism of East Germany. It is true that in the GDR was no freedom of travel, and also no freedom of expression without taking the risk of serious consequences, especially when the remarks were of critical political nature – consequences relatively harmlessly described by the term “reprisals.” But also at Walmart I witnessed blatant threats by management against young employees during a meeting: ‘Be very careful what you say about the company publicly, including in your spare time and via Facebook. Be careful what you write about Walmart. There could be consequences for you, up to and including termination.’

Maybe they will come after me now when they read the truth about themselves and what I and others have witnessed. Land of the free … What I heard and saw opened my ears and eyes to how little American corporatocracy seemed to differ from socialist despotism, except that no one could lose their job in the GDR workforce. The right to a job was codified in the command economy system.

During those eight years with the corporation, I have often wondered why Americans accepted in such a docile way their fate of low wages while being treated like second class people. I had to go back to 1997 in my research to find an even halfway, yet not very satisfactory answer, provided by no less a figure than Alan Greenspan. The American economist, who served five terms from 1987 to 2006 as chair of the Federal Reserve, warned in his testimony about the performance of the US economy in front of the Joint Economic Committee: “Job insecurity cannot suppress wage growth indefinitely. Clearly, there is a limit to how long workers will remain willing to accept smaller increases in living standards in exchange for additional job security.”***

And yet, he was probably not quite correct at the time – or the situation had changed over the years and was subject to regional differences. When I was working for Walmart, people were literally toiling for barely more than a starvation wage, while the corporate family of roughly two dozen made 30 billion in profit per year, almost untroubled from any significant legal regulation in favor of the workers. Now and then a grumble could be heard behind held hands, but I never saw a potential for more. If they were afraid to make demands for better conditions from their employers for reasons of Job security, then the high labor turnover rate I witnessed didn’t fit the picture. At Walmart, there was a constant coming and going – employees often simply didn’t show up at the store the very next day. After three or four years, I realized I was one of the “longest-serving” of the 90 or so employees in the store.

Contrary to Greenspan’s thesis, my colleagues gave me the impression that they could do nothing to change the unjust conditions. They seemed to accept their situation with drastic cuts in their rights rather as a “God-given” fact. These are dire realizations, especially from younger people who supposedly lived in a country of freedom and liberty.

Those who have to live constantly in existential dilemmas through no fault of their own can hardly feel any sense of freedom. They worked in a lawless space, and there was no real legal representation of workers’ interests. No one dared to even utter the word “trade union.” Unions in the US, of course, also smack of socialism – again, an argument as intentionally scattered as it is nonsensical. In this context, American history tells a different story: The first American president to openly side with unions was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt – not a Socialist, but a Republican, as we know. The man knew what hardly anyone in the US seems to know today: membership in a union representing the interests of the vulnerable is one of the fundamental rights of a truly free and democratic social order. An upper class that does not have to disguise its actions will have no problem recognizing this basic right. Only in a system that systematically represses a large part of its own population while wanting to remain undisturbed is there a deliberate intention to nip in the bud views that run counter to corporate interests.

This gives rise to the profound suspicion that the United States of America is anything but a free country, for the majority of its populace is in various forms subjected to neoliberalism, which restricts social services, gives excessive power to corporations, enables political corruption without legal intervention, and exacerbates economic inequality. In this way, social division in the US has become more and more pronounced, thereby further undermining the old American creed of freedom and equality.

Consequently, those trying to identify the true forces in the US suppressing American basic rights and liberties, will have to look at the domestic corporatocracy and its propaganda aids, the corporate media – led by outlets like Fox News, which CNN and others are currently somewhat behind in misleading the people. Most media outlets systematically distort and suppress reality to serve big business in the US, which provides these media with advertising spots worth billions of dollars. It’s about purchased opinion, ratings and against everything that could spoil the business. It is the profit interest of a few to the detriment of the many.

Right-wing ideologues like to use the specter of socialism in the most primitive way to distract attention from the real culprits of the problems in their country and to make their own political mark. And masses of Americans are falling for it in rows. Socialism as a bogeyman is cited as often as possible, if necessary even in the distant past of the former “communist East Germany”, although rather unknown to most Americans. Yet, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is particularly fond of invoking my nation when it comes to spreading delusions of an impending red tide in America, made up of “radical leftists.” At the same time, the man can’t be so stupid as to believe his own words – he just seems confident in his ability to dumb down his compatriots, since they obviously don’t know too much. If he doesn’t feel that way about them – then why is he telling all this easily disprovable nonsense? What he has to say about Germany in general is historically sheer baloney and can be refuted with a minimum of knowledge. Nevertheless, he does not seem to care what truth is and what nuisance – and neither obviously do those who manage to vote for him.

Are these people entrusting their future to such demagogues still in their right minds? What – to cite just two current examples – does a compulsory mask regulation in the midst of a worldwide pandemic or a vaccine have to do with socialism?

In the USA, neither socialism nor anything else is in sight to oust the prevailing neoliberal system. Those who should have a particularly guilty conscience throw around terms like socialism or communism for the sole purpose to keep people in line and stir up fears about an ideology that is considered un-American anyway. And rest assured: even those confounded Democrats who barely mention Socialism by its name – Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer – are more afraid of socialism than the devil is of holy water. Why? Because they get their billions from one and the same source as their Republican counterparts: The Corporatocracy.

They can fight each other in public as much as they want. How does an ancient German proverb say? “When it really comes down to it, one crow doesn’t peck out another’s eye.”

Or have you ever seen a different version yet?

Notes:

*** Source: Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan, Performance of the U.S. economy,
Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress, March 20, 1997. Available in the Internet at FRB: Testimony, Greenspan — Performance of the U.S. economy — March 20, 1997 (federalreserve.gov)

Biden’s Egg Dance over 9/11

The God Who Told an American President to Start Two Wars

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

The American President is once again on a course of appeasement. Family members and victim’s representatives do not want Joe Biden to speak on-site on the imminent 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the United States. Instead of the usual heroic epic, they demand clarification about the real reasons why their loved ones had to die. Yet, shortly after the attacks, reports already circulated about the actual mastermind behind the 19 terrorists, 14 of whom came from Saudi Arabia alone. But George W. Bush, in the exuberant euphoria of his deluded countrymen, ordered the invasion of Afghanistan.

With his announcement to review classified information about the terrorist attacks from FBI sources at the time and release it early if necessary, the current president is trying to take ammunition out of the game. Once again, Biden runs the risk of having to take the rap for unfortunate decisions of his predecessors. For he is no more responsible for the Bush administration’s deliberate “miscalculations” 20 years ago than he is for the premature decision to withdraw the last American troops from Afghanistan. Nevertheless, he is aware of how much more compromising intelligence material could discredit the U.S. as the Western leading power, even more so after the ignominious end in Afghanistan.

Moreover, even a Joe Biden cannot afford to seriously condemn the close ally Saudi Arabia. The Americans are too involved with the Saudis in multi-billion dollar oil and arms deals. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is seen as a kind of bulwark that keeps the other Arab countries in a reserved position toward Israel. As tragic as it is obvious, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were certainly intended to also hit major Jewish interests in the United States.

Biden again finds himself in an unenviable position. This time, however, he will hardly have to fear a similar backlash from members of Congress as he did during the chaotic retreat from Kabul. For even if the truth behind the September 11 attacks now emerges more clearly with the likelihood that Afghanistan had nothing to do with it, this will hardly change anything in the public perception in the USA. The masses barely take notice. Even the American defeat in the Hindu Kush seems to have been acknowledged by the population to only a relatively small extent – ideal conditions for future U.S. military aggressions in all parts of the world. After all, war material gathering dust in arsenals does not bring in revenue, but costs money – a lot of money. And it yields billions in profits to a few as soon as it is used and subsequently replaced. Seeing it from this paramount American perspective, the results in Afghanistan and Iraq were anything but defeats.

A numerically very small caste of politicians and big capitalists operating in the background – all members of a power-obsessed oligarchy – consistently lead the American public by the nose, and they are not reluctant to deceive Americans even when it comes to senseless wars and human lives. This is by no means a new insight with regard to the USA, and it has nothing at all to do with conspiracy theories. In this context, it also does not matter who holds the presidency.

The U.S. cannot live without intervening or let to intervene militarily somewhere in the world – too often, this fact has proved to be a perpetual spiral. Perhaps this and his own place in the history books was George W. Bush’s primarily motivation when he started the two wars with shameless hypocritical religious bluster and lies twenty years ago. In the historical record, before Bush’s time, political leaders and responsible military officers had been brought before international tribunals for their actions under very similar circumstances.

But his very personal assessment for the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, which resulted in endless civil wars in the Middle and Near East and the deaths of several hundred thousand civilians, as well as the emergence of ISIS, was, in George W. Bush’s own words, different: “God told me to start this war.”***

In reality, neither of the two wars instigated by the U.S. was directly related to the victims of September 11. Their deaths were misused to impose American ideas of democracy and freedom by force in countries that never wanted anything to do with American culture. The relatives of the dead of September 11 fear nothing less than that today.

Notes:

*** There are several verifiable sources that support Bush’s statements at the time about the wars; only two are cited here. Sometimes, the bizarreness of his choice of words seemed to rival the later primitive rhetoric of a Donald Trump. In connection with himself, Bush finally brought Divine Providence into the picture, and the majority of Americans fell for it. This was their blessing for the “Christian Crusades,” which the former President himself has called by these words.

“President George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden’s stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians.” Quote: The Independent, UK, 15 November 2011“God told me to go to war.” Quote: George W. Bush, The Mirror, GB, 10 July, 2005.

Get Vaccinated

From My Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Very rarely do people in Union County, Georgia, get to read anything sophisticated stemming from local sources. Everything is apparently strikingly fine-tuned within the unwritten norms of a buddy system stuck in old habits. But every now and then, the reader is amazed at the rationality of a published opinion, as happened recently in an otherwise rather dull weekly newspaper.

It is a letter to the editor from a health expert who, in very simple but all the more forceful terms, urges previously vaccine-averse people in a somewhat backward area to get vaccinated against Covid. Seldom before have I read anything more sensible on a local level in this area, where I have now lived for ten years.

The expert rightly points out in his brief op-ed the extremely tense situation in local hospitals, caused by the Delta variant, stating that “Covid is exploding in our area.” He urgently appeals to the population not to believe the circulating scare stories about the vaccine including conspiracy theories and instead to get vaccinated.

There is really not much to add – except something that no one obviously wants to hear: If there are indeed people who believe in all possible nonsense and only not in what is rational, then the insightful have a democratic*** right to be protected from them. After all, every drunk driver must rightly expect severe punishment for endangering the lives of others.

Those who not only refuse to contribute to the protection of society in a pandemic, but, on the contrary, deliberately endanger others, should face consequences that affect their daily lives in public locations. A constraint? Of course, for no one has the right to put the lives and health of others at risk. And if these visionary hillbillies can’t put one and one together, they should at least think about the unvaccinated children.

Unfortunately, far too many “officials” in Union County have also failed in their responsibilities by allowing themselves to be obviously exploited for political purposes rather than standing up to unreason. This is especially true for the local school authorities, for they could all foresee what would happen without mandatory masks in the schools.

Note:***For some, a little explanation may be necessary at this point. “Democratic” in the proper sense does not refer to the Democratic Party (of which the author of these lines is not a supporter, by the way), but to the basic principles of democracy.

A Dead Soldier doesn’t Care

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Why do Americans always have to emphasize heroism whenever their soldiers die a senseless death somewhere in the world? The 20-year-old boy who died in the attack at Kabul airport and his comrades would certainly have liked to stay alive. They are not heroes just because they are dead now.

“A dead soldier does not care who won or lost the war.” ***

It would be better to turn one’s own shock at such tragedies into the rationale of how terrible every war is. I’m not sure, but maybe you have to belong to a nation that, like the Germans, collectively got punched in the mouth before they could come to such a conclusion.

The bitter experiences of the World War II generation with whom I sat at the breakfast table have been passed down to those who were fortunate enough to have been born later, as I was. If there is one good thing to be said for the Germans, it is that they have actually learned lessons from their history. That is a fact.

Yesterday’s mistakes should not be forgotten so that they do not happen again. They should serve as a reminder to those who come after us.

Notes:

***The quote is taken from the West German 1959 movie “Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben” (Dogs, do you want to live forever?”) about the battle of Stalingrad, directed by Frank Wisbar and based on the novel of the same name by Fritz Woess. The classic film is available online with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jrn8KsiVkoe

A remark is allowed in this regard:
Certainly, Hitler’s wars of aggression are officially not or only very rarely comparable with military interventions which followed the Second World War (I guess it always depends on who is doing what); although even this difference did not help the dead afterwards. It may be referred therefore at least to the recent USA wars and interventions, which without exception began under flimsy justifications up to lies: Lebanon, Korea, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, Granada, Panama, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Somali, Iraq – just to name a few. Of the most recent US wars, the one in Iraq alone has cost the lives of 150,100 people, including uninvolved civilians and members of all armed forces involved, as of early 2008.

An Almost Collective Failure

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Once again the compassionate, everything and everyone understanding citizen of the world spoke to his people.

The American president’s pithy remarks yesterday are surprising, because just a few days ago he sounded quite different. But it is he who is largely responsible for the chaos at Kabul airport.

It is amazing how the American pattern repeats itself over and over again. After the deaths of 13 soldiers, Joe Biden found words that have become standard in this country – it is what most Americans want to hear, although the supporters of the right-wing spectrum may not believe this president on this point. Because many of them falsely believe that it was he who screwed things up in Afghanistan. Yet, Biden “merely” handled the exit to another American tragedy in an incompetent manner that could hardly have been worse.

As recently as July 8, he had responded to a reporter’s question by saying that it is “highly unlikely” that the Taliban would overrun the entire country. This had proven how out of touch he was with reality. He was clueless about the historical realities in Afghanistan, which a president before him had already thrown to the wind: George W. Bush, the man leading an administration actually responsible for what we see today.

To a certain extent, however, responsible are also the millions of Americans who fell for primitive slogans 20 years ago and who, with their consent, supported the American adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of freedom and thus made it possible in the first place.

From this point of view, it is eminently notable that the crusade ends under the same slogan from the mouth of an American president with which it began in 2001: “We will hunt them down.”